Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria located in the wide Inn Valley, between high mountains, at the intersection of two important traffic routes between Germany and Italy and between Switzerland and Vienna. It is a well-known winter sports center, which hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976 and the Winter Paralympics in 1984 and 1988. Its name means “Inn Bridge”
- The Golden Roof
- The City Tower
- The Helbling House
- The Cathedral of St. James
- The Imperial Palace
- The Jesuit Church
- Maria Theresien Strasse
- The Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit
- St. Anne’s Column
- The Servite Church
- The Triumphal Arch
- The Swarovski Crystal World
The best way to start our tour around Innsbruck, (if we have limited time or if we simply don’t want to miss some important sites), is from the very heart of The Old Town, and from one of its main attractions, The Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl).
The roof was completed in 1500, and it was decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I to celebrate his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. They used the balcony to watch festivals, tournaments, and other events that took place in the square below.
Around Christmas, this square becomes a huge market with lots of stalls selling gifts, food and drink.
The best view of it is doubtlessly from The City Tower, built 50 years earlier, in 1450 on the side of the old town hall with 133 steps and the 31-metre-high viewing platform. Guards kept watch from it for almost 450 years, warning citizens of fire and other dangers. The lower floors were used as a prison. Today the tower is there for visitors to enjoy, giving them a magnificent and romantic view of Innsbruck.
The Helbling House, named after one of its previous owners, is a building that is simply impossible to miss in this square. It was built in the fifteenth century, significantly changed with new architectural styles afterwards, and completed in 1732. The Rococo stucco decorations added in the early eighteenth century, designed to capture light, made this building unique.
Taking Pfarrgasse Street, we will get to The Cathedral of St. James (Dom St. Jacob), Innsbruck Cathedral (Innsbruck Dom), a beautiful cathedral with imposing twin-towered west front and the high dome, built in Baroque style in 1724 and fully restored after World War II.
The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) is a former Habsburg palace, constructed around 1460, and, along with the Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, considered one of the three most significant cultural buildings in the country. It was the main building of a large residential complex including the Silver Chapel, the Hofkirche, the Theological University, the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, Innsbruck Cathedral, the Congress, the Hofgarten…
It was remodeled in Baroque and Rococo style in the 18th century upon instructions from Empress Maria Theresa. The Giant Hall in polished marble and decorated in white and gold, with three large ceiling frescos from 1775, and beautiful portraits of the Imperial family, is particularly impressive. Maria Theresa’s Rooms, Empress Elisabeth’s Apartment, the Ancestral Gallery, the Furniture Museum, and the Painting Gallery, are also worth seeing.
The area around the Hofburg offers several other attractions worth seeing. The Silver Chapel built in 1587 as the burial chapel named after a silver image of the Virgin, the Old University founded in 1562, The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche), with its mighty 60-meter-tall dome built in 1640, the Tyrolean Provincial Theater (Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck), built in 1846, and the Hofgarten, with its Art and Concert Pavilion.
Burggrabben Street will take us straight to Maria Theresien Strasse, the main street of Innsbruck transformed into an elegant promenade and pedestrian zone in 2009, which is the ideal place to take a stroll, do some shopping, meet friends and sit at one of the many outdoor cafés, admiring the magnificent Baroque architecture and the city panorama.
At the head of this street, we will find The Roman Catholic Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit. The hospital that gave its name to the church no longer exists, and the church has changed its appearance a lot over the years, since the 12th century, when it was first mentioned.
St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule), a beautiful monument commemorating the event when the last Bavarian troops were driven from the Tyrol on St. Anne’s Day (26 July) in 1703, stands in the center of the street. A bit further, there is The Servite Church (Servitenkirche) scenic, old and typical Austrian church built in the early 1600s and got its current appearance in the late-baroque period, perfect for a lovely picture to capture with the mountains in the background, if the sky is blue.
The street, and our tour, ends with The Triumphal Arch (Triumphpforte), built in 1765 on the occasion of the wedding of the second son of Empress Maria Theresa, Archduke Leopold, to the Spanish princess, Maria Luisa. Because of the sudden death of Leopold’s father, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, its south side portrays motifs of the wedding of the young couple, and its north side commemorates the death of the emperor.
If you still have some time, do pay a visit to The Swarovski Crystal World (Swarovski Kristallwelten) in Wattens, just 20 minutes outside Innsbruck, a magical place that fills senses with wonder and delight. For those who love the brand, or simply love sparkling crystals, this attraction is a real fairy tale world of shimmering crystals for both adults and children.
I hope that you will find my itinerary useful and that it will make your visit even more amusing and pleasant.